Jews and Romans were enemies. The Romans generally oppressed the Jews. However, this Roman centurion is said to have loved the Jews and built them a synagogue as a place to worship God. For this reason, when the centurion desires his servant to be healed by Jesus, the Jewish elders say, “He is worthy to have you do this for him.”
As Jesus walks toward his house, the centurion says exactly the opposite: “I am not worthy.” None of us are worthy to have Jesus come into our lives. The centurion expresses amazing faith but acknowledging that Jesus need not come to his house but can just speak a word from a distance and the servant will be healed.
Jesus speaks and from a distance the servant is healed. The question is who Jesus is to be able to do this.
In the very next account, we learn something of who Jesus is. As Jesus leads a crowd of disciples up a hill he is met by a crowd of people led by a widow whose only son has died. One wonders what will happen as these two crowds meet – one led by the Lord of Life and one devastated by death.
The first thing we are told is that Jesus sees the widow. His seeing her leads to his having compassion for her. He touches the coffin which ordinarily would have made him unclean but instead he speaks a word (see the story above). The word is addressed to the dead young son – ‘arise’. The dead man lives.
Who is this man? The people say that is a great prophet, that is, he speaks God’s word powerfully. But there is more to him than that because some say – that in him God has visited his people. Whoever Jesus is he speaks with compassion and power – and those who were dead in their sins and transgressions experience life!